The aim has been to provide several different versions of the spelling and punctuation. Images of the first edition (nn. 7.3. from The Codrington Library, All Souls College, Oxford) can be viewed by clicking on the folio numbers within the text. However, as my research into the printing of Ocho comedias shows (see Chapters 5-7 of the written part of my thesis), neither the spelling nor the punctuation of the first edition can be attributed to Cervantes, who was cavalier about his spelling and who scarcely punctuated his writing. The amanuensis, who transcribed the author’s manuscript for the printer, and the corrector at the printing house, who, in this instance, was probably a senior typesetter, undoubtedly played a more decisive role in such matters.

In all three of the edited versions ('1st edition', 'ed. O’Neill' and 'unpunctuated') spelling and accentuation has been modernized, except where this would affect sound, rhyme or metre. Muñoz’s mispronunciation of 'aníma' (l. 2644 and note) has not, therefore, been 'corrected' to 'ánima', as in other modern editions. Abbreviations have been expanded, except speaker names, which have simply been given greater consistency. For a table of examples of modernized spellings and expansions see Spelling Variants . The way in which the text is punctuated in the three edited versions with modernized spelling may be summarized as follows:

  • 1st edition. The punctuation and capitalization corresponds to the first edition.
  • ed. O'Neill. This version was developed through, and designed for, performance. The punctuation is therefore rhetorical rather than grammatical, with a comma representing a short pause for breath, and a full stop a longer pause. The overall effect is that the text is noticeably less punctuated, which will be particularly apparent where lists of words are concerned (see for example l. 13).
  • unpunctuated. Capitals are only used for proper names. This version responds to the need expressed by some theatre practitioners, including Nicholas Hytner, the director of the National Theatre in the UK, for an unpunctuated text, which allows them to discover the meaning of the text for themselves, without editorial intervention (see Hunter and Lichtenfels [eds.], Shakespeare, Language and Stage, p. 164). It may also be welcome to scholars who wish to produce their own edition. This version corresponds more closely than the other edited views to the manuscript that would have been produced by Cervantes, which in all likelihood would have carried very little punctuation (see my remarks above concerning the images of the first edition).